My Lockdown e-Learning Experience

I’ve received a few questions from students and teachers about my e-learning experience since lockdown. Well, I’m not sure about other schools in the UK, but for my school, we use a variety of means for our online learning: live lessons, set work, and Internet websites. For your information, I’m currently in Year 8, which is the second year of secondary school. Things might be different in other years, but I’ll talk about our e-learning for Year 8.

Our online learning is exactly the same as a 9am-4pm normal school day, from registration until the end of the day, with 8 periods and the same timetable, except we do it all at home. The subjects we’ve done through online learning are English, Religious Studies, History, Biology, Maths, Latin, Drama, Art, French, Physics, Design and Technology, Geography, Music, Chemistry, and Sports. Some were through live lessons, and other times, we were set work, where we had to work and then submit it digitally at the end of every lesson. And of course, we have break and lunch at normal times.

For live lessons, we’ve been using an app called Zoom, which is widely used by other schools and universities. Each session lasts for 40 minutes, and there are different things both the teacher and the students can do. If it’s required, you can turn on your webcam, or just have the mic on. There is an option to mute the mic, so not everyone is talking over each other at the same time. And what’s really useful is that you can share your computer screen with others, so you can put up notes, a question, or anything else you need pupils to see. 

In terms of set work, we’ve been using Google Classroom most of the time. That’s where teachers can set assignments, post announcements, and ask questions. We’ve also been set work on Firefly, our school’s intranet system.

For Maths specifically, we’ve had live lessons on Zoom where the teacher shared their screen with us so we could see the notes and answer questions. Also, we were set work on a website called MyiMaths, where the teacher can set tasks related to specific topics. This could also be the case for other subjects, such as languages, where you could be set tasks on websites like Duolingo etc.

Personally, I find that the live lessons are the most successful for introducing new topics or going over more difficult work, because the teacher is there to explain the work to you, and if you’re stuck, you can ask them a question. However, set tasks work just as well if the work is more straightforward.

Hopefully, this little bit of my e-learning experience could be useful for both students who want to know more about what e-learning is like, and for teachers who want to create an ideal work environment for online school. If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’d be more than happy to share about my e-learning experience.

Stay safe,

Omar Mukhtar

Day 5 Of Covid-19 Distance Learning…

Since yesterday was the last day of term, we only had a half-day of school. Normally, we’d have meetings with our school houses and our forms, but that would be too difficult to organise since we’re all doing online learning at home. So instead, our Head of Year set us a challenge – we had to make a tower out of Lego, and whoever built the tallest tower won! So that’s what I’m doing in the photos, in case you were wondering what any of that had to do with distance learning. My finished tower was 178cm tall, but if I added any of the leftover blocks, it would have fallen down! The winning tower was 4 metres tall – that’s a lot of blocks! It was quite a fun way to end the term, even though we were all at home. And it certainly took our minds off the stress of being stuck at home because of the coronavirus.

Regarding the pandemic, we received breaking news whilst we were in the middle of this Lego challenge. The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with a few other members of the government, have tested positive for Covid-19. Yet again, we have proof of how quick and widespread this virus is, which is why it’s so important for all of us to stay at home to minimise the threat of the virus. The key workers and front-liners are doing all they can to stop the coronavirus in its tracks, so as a favour to them, we should stay at home to prevent any further spread of the virus. They are heroes sacrificing their own time for us, so do this as a ‘thank you’ for everything they are doing for us. May God protect them and reward them for their selfless actions.

Stay safe,

Omar Mukhtar

Day 4 Of Covid-19 Distance Learning…

Thursday is the day when I’d have a full afternoon of sports on normal school days. But since we’re now in #lockdown, of course we can’t really do that when we’re all learning online, and it would be hard for a few sports teachers to supervise 120 or so boys all at once. So the P.E. teachers have figured out a system – they’ve given us a training diary for the whole week, and all we need to do is pick a workout of our choice and write it down along with the amount of time we spent doing it – simple! And what’s really clever about it is that it means that even though we’re stuck at home, we’ll still be able to keep fit.

The highlight of the day was when we all joined the whole of the UK at 8pm last night to #clapforourcarers and applaud the #NHS and all the front-liners. We were all looking forward to it – even Fatimah and Ali stayed up past their bedtime just to show their love to the NHS! The cheering was unbelievably loud; every household was clapping and you could even hear it from inside the house! It seems nobody wanted to miss the chance to show their thanks and appreciation to all the key workers for putting their health at risk and doing all that they can to battle the #coronavirus. They are truly heroes, and for that we want to say #ThankYouNHS! May God keep you all safe and reward you for your noble acts.

Stay safe,

Omar Mukhtar

#clapforNHS

Day 3 Of Covid-19 Distance Learning…

We’ve gotten used to the rhythm of online learning now, so there isn’t much to update you on in terms of my studies. However, reading the news yesterday, I was quite shocked. Here in the UK, Prince Charles has tested positive for the coronavirus. The news spread like wildfire. It just goes to show how widespread Covid-19 is, and how careful we should be to contain it. Like I said in yesterday’s post, we’re really lucky to have such great resources, which mean that we can carry on with our studies whilst not risking anybody’s health. I pray that we all get through this quickly and unharmed, and that God blesses all those key workers and front-liners, including our very own teachers, who are the reason why we can carry on with our education safely during this pandemic.

Stay safe,

Omar Mukhtar

Day 2 of Covid-19 Distance Learning…

This is me working together with my friends in a live lesson to complete our artwork. Even though we’re in the comfort of our own homes, it still feels like a normal school lesson, with me working side by side with my classmates to complete the task.

Both teachers and students have been resilient with this new online learning. To start the day off, we had a live Drama lesson, and everyone was unsure about how well it would work. But in fact, the live lesson went really well – we learnt a lot from the teacher and we even managed to work together in real-time and write our own scripts in small groups!

Looking back at it all, I’ve realised how lucky we are. Despite not being able to go to school, we’re still having full 7-hour school days and not missing out on our education. In fact, they’re exactly the same quality as normal school lessons! It really makes me see how fortunate we are to still be blessed with good health and the ability to learn, even amid all the chaos in the world.

But honestly, all thanks should go to the teachers, as they’re the ones who’ve put all the effort into making this the best experience possible! I pray not only for the safety of all our friends around the world, but for the health of those front-liners and key workers who haven’t given up fighting the battle against coronavirus. May God bless you all!

Stay safe,

Omar Mukhtar

Day 1 Of Distance Learning…

Today is officially the first day of school closure here in the UK 🇬🇧 But at the same time, the majority of the schools here are still open to help look after the children of the front-liners and the key workers – how noble! We’ve had our first live English lesson from home. So far, it’s gone well, and though we’ve had to overcome a few technical difficulties, hopefully all the rest of our lessons will be as smooth as this one. Even though we are staying at home, we still have to follow the normal school timetable and attend the online distance learning classes. Not all of the lessons will be live, though; we’ll have set work most of the time. Thank you to all teachers who’ve been working hard to keep on educating children despite the schools being closed. We will try our best to cooperate and liase with the normal school timetable. Right now, I’m looking forward to my next live lesson – Maths!

Stay safe,

Omar Mukhtar

Mother's Day 2020

With all the panic about the coronavirus that’s around, it’s easy to forget that Mother’s Day has arrived. Normally, around this time of year, we’d all be busy with preparations for the occasion. But with all the measures being put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, plus the fact that we’re being encouraged to stay at home, those plans were all thrown to the wind.

However, being told to stay at home has really opened my eyes. Over the past few days, I’ve realised how much effort Mrs Mom is putting in to make the most of our time at home. As all schools are shut in the UK, me, Fatimah, and Ali are staying home. That means it’s going to interfere with our education for the next month – or even more. But Mrs Mom has been working hard to carry on ‘school’ for both Fatimah and Ali. Because Fatimah and Ali could miss out on a lot from their education, she’s created a whole new timetable and using resources from home to homeschool them until further notice. She truly is amazing, organising educational activities to make up for our lost time at school, and doing everything she can to keep our spirits up during this difficult time, despite not being well herself. And of course, she wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of Mr Dad by her side!

When everybody was moaning about how they were going to do staying at home for so long, I wasn’t worried. In fact, neither were my little brother and sister. Because when I thought of the time I was going to be able to spend with my family, suddenly, it wasn’t anything to worry about. Mrs Mom and Mr Dad have always been there for all of us, brightening up our lives. More time at home means more quality time with them, and that’s definitely not something to worry about!

So whilst we’re all stuck at home until who knows when, don’t moan about not being able to go out. Instead, look on the bright side of things! Take time to appreciate those mothers and any motherly figures or any people who have acted as a mother to you when you’re spending time with them over the course of the next few weeks. And don’t just remember these amazing people on Mother’s Day, or even until this period of staying at home is over. We should be grateful for these idols every single day, and we should love them as they have loved us.

And let’s not forget those amazing mothers who have given up their time this Mother’s Day to battle the coronavirus head-on. Those front-liners, key workers, all those who are risking their own health and sacrificing time with their family, those are the true super mothers – may God bless them!

Happy Mother’s Day,

Omar Mukhtar

On Covid-19…

As the world is waging a war against #covid19,

Our little family has been fighting our own battle.

When the world was advised to stay at home,

That was what we have been doing for many years.

When the world was panicking and stockpiling food,

Our mother couldn’t even swallow food.

When the world was told to self-isolate,

We couldn’t even get close to our mother when she was in pain.

As the world fears losing their loved ones,

We have been living in fear of losing our mother.

Though #covid19 started only last year in 2019, we have been battling for years before this. And I believe we are not the only family who have been suffering. There are many families who have been going through the same thing long before the arrival of #covid19, and more fuel has been added to the fire now that the #coronavirus is another threat to them and their loved ones. So that’s why we must always be kind to one another, not only in times like this, coz we don’t know what battles other people are fighting!

Sending our love and prayers to all our friends in China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Malaysia, and all around the world…and we would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to all those doctors, nurses, and health workers who are sacrificing their own time and putting their lives at risk to combat the #coronavirus. A salute to all you amazing, selfless people – may God protect you!

Stay safe,

Omar Mukhtar

Happy World Book Day!

One of the things I miss the most about primary school is dressing up for #WorldBookDay. Being an absolute bookworm, I always looked forward to the occasion.

This was the 9-year-old me in 2016, dressed up as the Cat In The Hat. I love this photo so much – not because of me, but because of the little, tiny girl standing next to me. Just look at how cute Fatimah is! She was only two years old at the time. I can still remember how excited she was watching me get ready that day, and now it’s her turn to be excited for #WorldBookDay!

I’m glad that Fatimah and Ali share the same love of books as I do. They’re two really imaginative lil’ kids, and their love for reading only takes that further. It’s on days like #WorldBookDay when they truly enjoy themselves, reading loads of books until their heart is content (not as if they do that every day already!)

So this #WorldBookDay, take the time to finish old books, start new ones, set reading challenges, step outside your comfort zone and read a genre you’ve never read before, whatever! No matter what you do, make sure you’re making the most of this special celebration…

Happy World Book Day,

Omar Mukhtar

#thepawsomelion